Author: Varner, Marty

Grass Valley Memories

Even though some time has passed, the memories of this Fatherís Day Festival will live on with me and will be remembered as one of the best times of my life so far. The moments and friendships that come together in Grass Valley California have the ability often times to be magical and enchanting, and this year was no different. From the memorable jams, to the incredible bands and people you meet along the way, there is nothing like being at Grass Valley.

My first juncture of the trip was to be a teacherís assistant to the always hilarious and musically talented, Paul Shelasky. His Mandolin II class was a lot different from the classes I had done in the past, the main goal of the class was to learn exact Bill Monroe breaks from his times in the Monroe Brothers. Even though when most people think of Billís music they do not think of his times with his brother, itís still an extremely important thing for any mandolin player to know, and easier to figure out then his music following his early years.

I also had the pleasure to meet up and pick a little with my friends and Jamming 101 teachers, Sid Lewis and Johnny Lombardo. Even though they are not usually on the CBA scene, I still get to see them once a year at the CBA Music Camp and I always have a great time playing with incredible musicians with a similar approach to music as I do. Even though they left on Wednesday before the festival, they didnít harm my experience for the rest of the weekend and the festival that is yet to come.

What I found to be the best part of this yearís lineup was the diversity throughout the festival. Whether you were the type of bluegrass fan that enjoys the traditional sound of Danny Paisley, or the modern and unorthadox styles of the Deadly Gentlemen, or enjoyed the mind-blowing vocals of the Seldom Scene, there was a band for you at this yearís festival. A few moments that I recall the best of the bands was the tear jerking vocals of Danny Paisley when he sang ĎIíll Break Outí and when The Seldom Scene got numerous standing ovations for performing their old favorites, ď Lay Down SallyĒ and ďWait a Minute,Ē which was sung by the songís author, Herb Pedersen. And even though the first Sunday till Friday were great, the greatest thing happened on Saturday night when the festival was drawing to a close.

On Saturday night at 2AM or so, I was with Nate Schwartz when we caught wind of an epic jam that was happening near the entrance and we decided to go over there with our instruments to see if we could get in. When we were over there we were really happy to see our friends Bill Evans, Luke Abbot, John Mailander, and Molly Tuttle jamming and having a great time. By the time we got there it had already been going on for a little bit, but they were still able to play a lot of songs when we got there. The crazy licks and killer harmonies made this one of the best jams I have ever been a part of, and the greatest moment from the greatest Grass Valley Festival, that I hope will come back as soon as possible.

Posted:  8/4/2012

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